Avian flu

The UK is experiencing a very large avian influenza (bird flu) outbreak and some wild birds may be infected.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Reporting dead wild birds

Please report dead wild birds to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) helpline, telephone 03459 335577.

You should call the Defra helpline if you find:

  • One or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
  • Five or more dead birds of any species

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

Wild birds are susceptible to a range of diseases and injuries and not all dead birds will have been infected with avian influenza.

Calls to the helpline about dead wild birds are triaged and not all birds will be collected. However, alerting Defra will enable them to monitor the spread of the disease in the wild bird population and help prevent kept birds at farms and smallholdings from being infected.

Disposal

If dead wild birds are not needed for avian influenza surveillance purposes and landowners have taken the decision to remove carcasses, it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely arrange disposal of the carcasses.

If dead birds are on public land it is the local authority’s responsibility to arrange disposal of the carcasses where removal is needed. If you have already alerted Defra and want to make us aware of the dead birds, please call 01293 438000 and ask for the Environmental Health Team.

If you keep birds

If you keep birds such as chickens, geese etc. there is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in the United Kingdom to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu.

Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Great Britain to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.

Keepers with more than 500 birds will need to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Keepers with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks and geese must also take steps to limit the risk of the disease spreading to their animals.

There are several avian flu video guides for all types of keepers on this YouTube channel.